The dire conditions in Flint, Michigan caught the attention of an entire nation and showed the worst that can happen when water is taken for granted. Here in Hammonton, we are lucky to be recipients of one of the purest drinking water supplies in the nation – the Kirkwood-Cohansey Aquifer. But common threats like overconsumption and pollution can jeopardize our water too.
At the recent Hammonton Green Committee event, “How We Can Combat Threats to Our Water,” speakers Monica Coffey of Sustainable Downbeach and Rich Bizub of the Pinelands Preservation Alliance shared insight on how we can safeguard our water.
Coffey discussed what our shore communities are doing to combat plastic pollution, which creates litter, kills wildlife and eventually finds its way up the food chain back to humans. The entire Downbeach community has come together to promote the use of reusable bags, ban balloon releases and work to educate their community on the dangers of plastic litter.
Bizub’s presentation discussed the Pinelands Preservation Alliance’s new campaign, “Save the Source,” (savethesource.org) which brings attention to the need for protection of the aquifer, and showcased examples of nearby communities that have seen their drinking water diminish as a result of poor planning and negligence. He made a great point that most people don’t want to pay much for water — literally a life-sustaining necessity — yet will likely pay much more for cable or cell phone bills.
Both presentations served as reminders that every action that occurs in our watershed affects our drinking water, oceans, wildlife, and ultimately, our health.
There are many opportunities that the town, homeowners and businesses can do to ensure the protection of our water. Here are a few:
Incorporate a rain barrel or a rain garden into landscaping to capture rainwater and reduce stormwater runoff and flooding.
Incorporate low-water plants native to our area and give sprinklers a break. (A shocking 59 percent of residential water use goes towards outdoor activities like lawn watering! In comparison, showering makes up a meager 7 percent.)
Never dump chemicals, oils or other hazardous liquids down your driveway or in your backyard.
Avoid pesticides, and never apply them before a rainstorm.
The most important thing we can all do is take time to value our water. Then when instances arrive that may seem like a nuisance or be costly — like restrictive watering or improvements to water infrastructure — we will know how crucial these actions are to ensuring access to clean water in the future as readily as we enjoy it today.